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30 Dec, 2021 14:32

New Covid crisis ‘unpredictable’ & ‘very difficult’ – Russian tennis No1

After revealing that she has tested positive for Covid-19 despite being "fully vaccinated", Russian number one Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has spoken of the challenges facing the world
New Covid crisis ‘unpredictable’ & ‘very difficult’ – Russian tennis No1

Pavlyuchenkova, who has entered isolation and now faces a race against time to make the Australian Open, has told people to take care of their health after she contracted the virus even though she is vaccinated.

The three-time quarter finalist at Melbourne Park arrived in Australia on Tuesday after leaving her training base in Dubai, only to be forced into a period of isolation by returning a positive result for the virus. 

The 30-year-old announced the news in a social media post early on Thursday. "Unfortunately, I have some bad news," she wrote. "I arrived in Australia on Tuesday and tested positive for Covid-19.

"I was fully vaccinated and was preparing for the start of the season in Dubai. But we live in a very difficult and unpredictable time.

"Right now I am in complete isolation, in a special hotel and following all the protocols under the supervision of doctors.

"Now it's important to take care of yourself and the health of others. I'll be back on court when it's safe for everyone."

Pavlyuchenkova is now certain to miss the opening event of the women's tennis season this weekend, the WTA 500 in Adelaide, but larger concerns will be centered around her status ahead of the Australian Open, which begins in Melbourne on January 17.

Currently ranked a career-best 11th in the world, Pavlyuchenkova enjoyed tremendous success in 2021.

She reached her first Grand Slam final in June, losing to Barbora Krejcikova in the French Open at Roland Garros, and helped Russia to win the Billie Jean King Cup in November.

In August, she won Olympic gold for her country alongside Andrey Rublev in the mixed doubles in Tokyo.

The Samara-born contender appeared to back a tweet earlier this year saying that Covid would only be "over" for vaccinated people.

In a now-deleted reply, she added that the US Open in August and September, when several players tested positive for Covid, was an "example", but said she was "not gonna give names".

Pavlyuchenkova then described a tweet claiming that vaccinated people have a relatively "miniscule" chance of becoming infected as "true" and told her critics: "I just love getting those attacking tweets towards me. Keep going, guys."

Pavlyuchenkova's test result makes her latest big name in the sport to be doubtful for the first Grand Slam event of the new year.

Novak Djokovic's participation remains in doubt amid questions as to his vaccination status, while the likes of Rafael Nadal, Denis Shapovalov, Belinda Bencic, Ons Jabeur and Pavlyuchenkova's mixed doubles partner, Rublev, have all also tested positive following their participation at a recent tournament in Abu Dhabi.

Barring what they have referred to as rare exceptions, Australian Open chiefs have stated that only fully vaccinated players will be permitted to compete next month at Melbourne Park.

Research carried out by the University of Oxford has found that two vaccine doses are 'substantially less effective' at warding off Omicron than previous Covid variants. 

That could explain how Pavlyuchenkova returned a positive result, although it is unclear if she has had a booster jab.

The researchers expressed optimism that a booster shot would improve immunity against Omicron, and the UK Health Security Agency has said that a booster prevents around 75 percent of people from contracting any Covid symptoms.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to US president Joe Biden, backed that suggestion.

"Preliminary data show that when you get a booster – for example, a third shot of an mRNA – it raises the level of protection high enough that it then does do well against the Omicron," Dr Fauci told ABC earlier this month.

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